It was an impressive turn from the British No. 2 Kyle Edmund, who regained his spot from Dan Evans. A decisive start for a 3-0 lead set the tone for a far more aggressive show than we have seen in recent clay court outings from Edmund as he held on to the advantage, before serving the set out to love.
The second set was a far more competitive affair from both of them with just one break point chance for Sousa early in the set, before Edmund capitalised on just his one chance late in the set to break for 5-4, serving out the set confidently.
He has a day off and will await the winner of Juan Martin Del Potro and Grigor Dimitrov, who play on Monday night.
Aljaz Bedene def. Gianluca Mager 6-7(3) 6-4 3-0 RET – Faces Djokovic next
Equally impressive, especially if you factor in coming through qualifying too was Aljaz Bedene’s win over Italian wild-card Gianluca Mager, who had to retire in the third set, having forced the Brit to come from a set down.
For his reward – gets to play Novak Djokovic, who shows signs of getting back to form, but there is a sense that there is still a long way to go, for the defending Roland Garros champion, who capitulated to an albeit dominant Rafael Nadal in the Madrid semi-final.
The pair have actually played twice before with it being fairly routine wins for Djokovic in straight sets. The green shoots of recovery were being to show in his game, and as great as Bedene’s run has been, he will need to play some exceedingly top notch tennis to even get a set off Djokovic, much less spring the surprise.
Prediction: Djokovic in straight sets.
Andy Murray  v Fabio Fognini – H2H: Murray leads 3-2
Newly minted 30-year-old Andy Murray (who by the way puts no store into birthdays) will start his title defence with a particularly tricky opponent in Fabio Fognini.
Always unpredictable, the Italian will be playing to a home crowd and the last time that happened he delivered upon the Brit a defeat that helped chuck them out of the 2014 Davis Cup.
That being said, Murray has the better of him in their last two meetings, including on the way to his second Olympic title in Rio. If his confidence was up we could be in for a tantalising match of angles and opportunities, but it honestly all depends on whether Murray has been able to turn his thoughts around after that loss to Borna Coric.
The manner in which he lost was what has been troubling – nothing was working except the maniacal grin that makes The Joker seem a serious character. We know Ivan Lendl is arriving at the end of the week to help him with his preparations for Roland Garros, but a lot will depend on how he approaches this match.
We ought to be expecting his serve to be on point, and to see him build up points and take Fognini’s almost languid changes of direction on the run. Then again – who knows what we could see by either.
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